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New Legislative Bill Gives Illegal Immigrants Access to Medi-Cal

Hispanic female dentist with boy patient and his smiling mom behind him.

In what has turned into high-stakes legislation, Sacramento Democrats have advanced a bill to grant illegal immigrants access to healthcare. Authored by State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, SB4 (Senate Bill 4) would give access to Affordable Care Act benefits to those residing in the state unlawfully. The legislation, which would open up Medi-Cal enrollment, cleared the Assembly Health Committee on a party line vote, drawing a few dozen opponents at the bill’s hearing.

The latest from Lara’s website is that approximately three to four million people in the state will remain uninsured in spite of ACA, and almost a million of that total will be undocumented residents eligible for coverage.

Previously, the state Senate voted to clear the bill, also known as the Health for All Act, which was described by Lara as “a transformational and decisive step forward on the path to achieving healthcare for all,” according to MSNBC. However, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office has already entered the fray once; requesting that Democrats scale back their ambitions.

As written, the initial bill, which would have allowed all undocumented immigrants to sign up through Medi-Cal, was trimmed down after opponents estimated the cost to be $740 million a year. The price tag was unacceptable to Brown, who made no indication whether or not he’ll sign off on the latest legislation.

On the other hand, as reported by Politico, the governor did sign off on spending “millions in state dollars to provide health care to undocumented children, mirroring similar efforts in a handful of other liberal states.”

While the state-run healthcare exchange, Covered California, has fallen short of its goals with the second year numbers dropping, it continues to be an Obamacare keystone. But, the brewing conflict between Gov. Brown and state Democrats over the price of expanding coverage could be an indicator of problems the legislation could pose for the party on a national level. And, the Republicans’ lack of trust in the Democrats’ repeated assurances while the law was being drafted that the Affordable Care Act wouldn’t cover undocumented immigrants has only compounded the problem.

More recently, the San Francisco Department of Health was placed in charge of administering a new effort with its so-called City Option initiative. Under the initiative, buying insurance through Covered California has been made easier for workers. In the past, beneficiaries were eligible for reimbursements supplied by the city – but now, with the new City Option, San Francisco will directly subsidize purchases made through the state exchange.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, however, although the new subsidies will not benefit immigrants living in San Francisco who are in the U.S. illegally, present unlawful immigrants have already received some favor under municipal law, making them eligible to receive healthcare services through the city’s Healthy San Francisco program.

The issue of illegal immigration has become a highly charged topic in the wake of a shooting that made national news. In fact, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tied the killing to the city’s so-called “sanctuary” status, which could impede the passage of the controversial law.

It may be difficult to predict if the legislation will meet approval at the national level, but predicting your health’s future is even more difficult. That’s why – having health insurance coverage could be the difference between life and death should you be hit with a catastrophic illness.

Don’t take the chance and get a free California health insurance quote today.

Do you think illegal immigrants should be allowed to benefit from Medi-Cal insurance? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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